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The Erdoğan regime is quaking in its boots

As the state of the economy in Turkey is progressively worsening, the AKP’s popular support is dwindling countrywide. However, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan remains adamant about his unorthodox economic policies and continues on his authoritarian path with increasing ruthlessness. In order to maintain his iron grip on power, the regime has launched a concerted campaign against the opposition parties, especially those that are gaining traction as the hardships of the ordinary Turks are increasing by the day.

Erstwhile senior AKP leader and former Finance Minister, Ali Babacan, who parted ways with the ruling party and established one of his own last year, is one of the main targets. Turkish economy witnessed some of the best days in its entire history during Ali Babacan’s tenure at the Ministry of Finance. Now, as the regime seems to have lost control over the Turkish Lira and the ordinary Turks are finding it difficult to make ends meet due to high inflation, people are fondly remembering the days when Babacan was at the helm of the economic affairs of the country. AKP’s internal surveys also suggest the same.

The Turkish police arrested Metin Gurcan, a founding member of Ali Babacan’s Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA) on November 26 last year over political and military espionage charges for providing consultancy to foreign diplomats in Ankara. Even though it is a common practice amongst established political analysts in the country, it has been used as an excuse to defame the DEVA party and link it with espionage. For instance, the current Turkish Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın featured in the Stratfor email leaks which revealed he provided consultancy to the Texas-based private intelligence agency. Likewise, the current intelligence chief Hakan Fidan once worked as a political and economic advisor with the Australian Embassy in Ankara. If meeting and providing consultancy to foreign diplomats is tantamount to espionage, when do we expect Kalın and Fidan to be charged with the same?

Another major target for the government is Ankara’s current mayor, Mansur Yavaş. Yavaş and Istanbul mayor Ekrem Imamoğlu who are from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) are widely seen as potential opposition candidates against President Erdoğan in the upcoming elections. Both have a clean image and appeal to the liberals as well as the conservatives in the country. Yavaş, in particular, enjoys widespread approval from voters in Ankara.

Devlet Bahçeli whose Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) is a junior partner in the present government, issued a direct threat to the mayor saying: “Mr Mansur should be careful. The breath of the Grey Wolves is now on his back.” Such rhetoric was commonly used by political opponents against each other in the 1980s when political violence was at its peak. The Grey Wolves, a group of far-right ultra-nationalist Turks, are banned in several European countries due to their tendency to attack political opponents.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) also found itself at the receiving end of the regime’s concerted campaign against the opposition. The Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Prosecutor Bekir Şahin who had sought the closure of the HDP over terrorism charges in March 2021, repeated his call in December that year.

It is widely seen as a step to pre-empt the HDP from joining the Nation Alliance (Millet İttifakı) – a coalition of major opposition parties under the leadership of the CHP. In November last year, the CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu made a sweeping call for political and social reconciliation to which the highly respected HDP leader and former co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş responded positively. His positive response paved the way for warming up of relations between the two parties and possible HDP’s inclusion in the Nation Alliance. The regime which has been putting all its efforts to break the alliance ever since its formation apparently couldn’t stomach it and mobilised loyalists in the judiciary to take action in order to prevent it from happening.

The regime is quaking in its boots.

M. Behzad Fatmi is a writer and political commentator. He writes widely in the Indian and international media, mainly on Turkish politics. Follow him on Twitter @BehzadFatmi

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